What's at stake? For Indiana, respect, other milestones vs. Michigan
When Indiana hosts Michigan at noon Saturday, it’ll have a lot at stake.
Respect might be No. 1.
The No. 13 Hoosiers can gain a ton of it, from others in the Big Ten East and many across the country, if they can knock off No. 23 Michigan.
Let’s take a look at 5 milestones the Hoosiers would reach with a win.
Indiana would reach 10 wins in the series
Needless to say, at least for those familiar with Indiana’s program, the Hoosiers’ all-time series vs. Michigan has been lopsided.
And perhaps that’s a nice description. Michigan leads it 59-9.
IU hasn’t beaten Michigan since 1987, when it won 14-10 in Memorial Stadium. Of course, that victory ended a streak of 15 consecutive loses, dating to the late 1960s. It’s one victory for the Hoosiers since 1967. Twice, Indiana has won three times in a four-game span; in all the other years combined? Three victories. Three.
So yes, Indiana would finally hit double-digit victories in the series, reaching Elusive No. 10.
The Hoosiers got series win No. 2 vs. Penn State in Week 1 this season, against 22 all-time losses.
IU would likely move into the top 10
If the Hoosiers beat Michigan, they’ll possibly ¬– likely perhaps — move into the top 10 of the Associated Press poll. It’s been a while since IU was ranked that high. In 1969, Indiana spent a week at No. 10, after it beat Kentucky in the season-opener. But previous to that, the Hoosiers’ last extended time in the top-10 came in the 1967 Rose Bowl season, when the Hoosiers started 8-0 and reached No. 5.
At No. 13, IU has its highest ranking since it was No. 11 in the AP on Oct. 31, 1987.
IU would beat 2 Top 25 teams in the same season
In 2004, Indiana beat 2 No. 24 teams, but it was — frankly — an anomaly. The Hoosiers beat 24th-ranked Oregon in Week 2 in a turnover-plagued effort, one of the wildest and most improbable victories in Indiana history. Six weeks later, the Hoosiers beat No. 24 Minnesota in front of only 22,000 in Memorial Stadium.
The problem for coach Gerry DiNardo and the Hoosiers is that they won only 1 other game all season. IU finished 3-8, lost to Purdue and DiNardo was fired shortly after.
This go-around might be a little more memorable. Indiana beat then-No. 8 Penn State in one of the more dramatic games in school history and now gets No. 23 Michigan.
The last time Indiana beat 2 ranked Big Ten teams: The 1987 Peach Bowl season, when the Hoosiers took down No. 9 Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan.
It’d provide more validation for Tom Allen
Let’s be honest, Tom Allen was an out-of-the-box hire when then-AD Fred Glass installed the defensive coordinator as the head coach — no interim — after Kevin Wilson’s resignation at the end of 2016.
Allen coached the Foster Farms Bowl game a few weeks later, then settled in as the head man. It was initially met with some skepticism, as Allen had spent only a season as Indiana’s DC and had never had major D-I head coaching experience. He had coached Indiana high school, the last as the head coach at Ben Davis from 2004-06.
But Allen has been a great fit for the Hoosiers. A mix of solid strategist, motivator and a surprisingly good recruiter, Allen helped IU to the postseason in his 3rd full season in Bloomington and now has the Hoosiers 2-0.
A win Saturday would certainly validate his place as a coach in the Big Ten.
It’d give IU a chance in the East
Who knows whether Indiana will be a perennial contender in the Big Ten East — the division is crowded at the top — so it has to take advantage of this opportunity. And it’ll have one if it gets to 3-0.
In Week 4, it’d be great to be relevant, and the Hoosiers would have back-to-back trips to East opponents. They might be favored in the first game, on the road at East Lansing. But they’ll be an underdog in the second, playing at Ohio State. Two of the last 3 scheduled games are at home, vs. Maryland and Purdue, sandwiched around a presumed trip to Wisconsin.